• Enter KENT disguised

    KENT

    If but as well I other accents borrow,
    That can my speech diffuse, my good intent
    May carry through itself to that full issue
    For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
    5If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned,
    So may it come thy master, whom thou lovest,
    Shall find thee full of labors.
    Horns within Enter LEAR with attendant knights

    LEAR

    Let me not stay a jot for dinner. Go get it ready.
    Exit attendant
    (to KENT) How now, what art thou?

    KENT

    10A man, sir.

    LEAR

    What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?

    KENT

    I do profess to be no less than I seem—to serve him truly that will put me in trust, to love him that is honest, to converse with him that is wise and says little, to fear judgment, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no fish.

    LEAR

    What art thou?

    KENT

    A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.

    LEAR

    If thou beest as poor for a subject as he’s for a king, thou'rt poor enough. What wouldst thou?
  • KENT enters in disguise.

    KENT

    If I can disguise my voice as well as my appearance, then I’ll be able to carry out my plan perfectly. I was banished, but hopefully I can serve the very king who condemned me. I love my master, and he’ll find me very hard-working.
    Trumpets play offstage. LEAR enters with his attendant knights.

    LEAR

    Don’t make me wait for dinner even a moment. Get it ready immediately.
    An attendant exits.
    (to KENT) Well now, who are you?

    KENT

    A man, sir.

    LEAR

    What’s your profession? What do you want from me?

    KENT

    I profess that I’m as good as I seem—I’ll faithfully serve a master who trusts me, love those who are honest, talk with those who are wise and don’t talk too much. I’m God-fearing, I fight if I must, and I don’t eat fish.

    I

    Kent interprets “your profession” as “your declaration” rather than “your job.”

    LEAR

    But who are you?

    KENT

    An honest guy who’s as poor as the king.

    LEAR

    If you’re as poor a subject as he is a king, you definitely are poor. What do you want?